Culture

Starts Again

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After a globetrotting decade as a backing singer, Tawiah finally releases an album of her own. Ironically titled “Starts Again”, it is the fruit of collaborations in those years with Sam Beste and Alex Reeve of Hejira. She honoured Sam by singing the standard “For All We Know” at his father’s funeral last year. Other backing musicians at its live launch last October in her native Deptford now play in Michael Kiwanuka’s band.

Heavy is the Head

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When word dropped that Stormzy’s new album Heavy Is The Head would be released on 13 December there were, to my mind, three possible scenarios. Firstly, it would be the perfect toast to a stunning Labour election victory. Alternatively, it would offer consolation in the wake of a devastating defeat. Finally, the “Fuck the government and fuck Boris” refrain of Vossi Bop would be the defiant slogan of the continuing struggle.

Waiting Game

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“Break down the walls til patriarchy falls” goes the line in “The Anthem” on Waiting Game, the new album by Terri Lyne Carrington and Social Science, a collaboration with Aaron Parks and Matthew Stevens. On No Justice (For Political Prisoners), the words of activists, newsreaders and prisoners echo.

Since becoming the youngest union card holder in Boston aged 10, Carrington has been politically engaged for all of her 40-year career in music, as drummer, producer and educator.

A Hidden Life

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Auteur director Terrence Malick commemorates the life of Austrian farmer Franz Jägerstätter who, when called up for his second round of military service during the Second World War, refused to pledge allegiance to Hitler.

The film is a meditative hymn to commemorate Franz and the life he has with his wife, Franziska, and their young children on their farm in a stunning mountainous valley; a world away from the brutalities of the Nazi war machine.

Oscar Marzaroli

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Oscar Marzaroli (1933-1988) is, unquestionably, one of the finest photographers Scotland has ever produced. His pictures of Glasgow and its people, in particular, are an intrinsic and iconic party of the city’s self-image. It is extraordinary, therefore, that this brilliant exhibition in Glasgow’s pre-eminent photography gallery is the first major show of his work in 30 years.

Anselm Kiefer

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Anselm Kiefer is something of an anomaly in the upper reaches of the contemporary art world.

In a period when the super-rich who set many trends favour the vacuous and decorative, his work engages with big ideas about society and history. He’s not shy of taking a political stand either: for several years he refused to attend his openings in the US, in protest against the Iraq war.

Charlotte Salomon: Life? Or Theatre?

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Charlotte Salomon was born at the end of the First World War and grew up in Berlin with her Jewish parents. The work on display in this show is a history of her family before she was born and her own life story. However if you go to this exhibition expecting to be immersed in the Jewish experience of Berlin, you’re going to have your ideas turned on their head.

Swimming Lessons

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The Skints’s sound combines punk, ska and reggae. Their recent tour promoting new album Swimming Lessons offered the audience a blast of emotions, whether they were jumping around to some songs, or swaying slowly to others.

They have made a name dealing with political issues. On the Short Change EP, “The Cost of Living is Killing Me” was an exploration of the deteriorating quality of life under a system intent on destroying the welfare state that Labour built.

Cheap Queen

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King Princess burst onto the scene in 2018 with singles “1950” and “Pussy is God”, which unambiguously rejected heteronormative sexuality in a pop packaging, as in the line, “I hate it when men try to chase me”.

The newly minted queer young icon releases her debut album Cheap Queen to much anticipation. Now 20 years old, the title and cover photo where her face is painted like a drag queen are nods to a lineage of underground LGBTQ+ culture.

The debut album is more interesting as a window into King Princess’s emotional exploration than musical journey.

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